Friday, February 25, 2011

International Women’s Day 100 Years (8 March)

Do you realise on 8 March International Women’s Day reaches a centenary (1911-2011). Wow hey. Huge changes have occurred in that time and yet there are still many more to be made. It is so worth celebrating the success. Check out this web site to see what’s happening in your country

I like some of the recent thinking that if we are going to make changes for the women then we need to make changes for the men.

This blog site is largely devoted to the juggle of raising kids whilst studying a PhD as a Mum. It would be not be possible without the support of my hubby but it would be so much easier if society allowed us to share the load equally. For an academic man to share care raising children his career would halt just like with Mums but worse. If the long hours and total commitment to work were altered to incorporate not only the caring of children but also frail relatives and community volunteer-work we would be such a better place to live in Oz.

Rather than prattle and rattle I’m going to list. I’m going to list all the inspirational moments that inspired me to try the juggle of raising a family whilst working. I’m also going to list the hardships I’ve endured that may have been preventable…


·         My male boss (District Manager in National Parks) who took one day off each week to care for his elderly father. He also welcomed a family environment at work.
·         My boss who gave up her office so I could have somewhere to express milk at lunch
·         My work colleague who asked if she could express milk in the lunch room of a manly male dominated workforce (I was appalled that she would bare her breasts at work and I was too young to realise how silly I was)
·         Work colleagues who worked part-time to care for their children. I knew it was possible
·         Maternity leave
·         Family benefit payments
·         Other Mums who have completed PhDs
·         The opportunity to study part-time whilst receiving an APA under special circumstances. Is a pre-schooler really a special circumstance or just a normal part of life???
·         Reading the book Mamma PhD
·         Reading the book How a pressure cooker saved my life
·         When I told the head of school I wanted to studying a PhD and have a baby in the first year she politely picked her jaw off the table, acknowledged I already had two kids so I knew what I was doing and offered to fund a laptop computer to make it possible
·         Mum- who worked her career to always care for my brothers and I. She followed her hubby but managed to find jobs that used her education. She was there during school holidays but a role model who could teach me about biology. I tried so hard to not be a scientist like my Mum. So why am I studying a PhD in Science?
·         Dad who can cook, clean and look after his grandchildren in-between flying to interstate meetings.

·         Being told I could not go part-time when I returned from maternity leave. I knew legally I could but I had lost the will to fight.
·         Travelling in a truck whilst my male work colleagues looked at porno magazines
·         Expressing milk in the toilets at Wollongong when I was on a workshop then tipping it down the sink. They could provide better facilities for milking Mums
·         Being denied a top-up scholarship from the CRC due to being part-time
·         Having library rights removed when I take leave to look after my kids during school holidays
·         Cost of childcare. In Adelaide preschool cost me Aus$50 per 10 weeks. In NSW it cost me Aus$36 per day.  
·         Having to arrange complicated care arrangements for my children any time I wanted to do field work or attend conferences
·         Being the primary carer when the kids were sick. So many days of study and work had to be missed
·         Keeping the sanity when a PhD takes forever due to studying part-time
·         Being asked how long I would be on maternity leave before being sent the letter of offer for employment
·         Field work when breastfeeding. Forget it!
·         Field work whilst menstruating
·         I don’t want to leave my kids to travel overseas to attend international conferences. I’d miss them too much but I can’t afford to take them and someone to care for them
·         Mother guilt

My hurdles have been nothing compared to the plight of many women over the years. May the next 100 years improve the lives and equality for women and families around the world…

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ying and Yang

Got the kids on the bus, feed the chooks, hung the washing out and started the mental process of switching from Mum to PhD. Nice simple to do list was forming in my brain such as write an abstract for an up and coming conference. Of course the phone rings. Its the Ying of my life asking me to Ping into action and become his Yang and drive him to a missed appointment. Hmmmm once again the PhD procrastination bug was fed by the Ying in my life. Luckily the mental support and cheerleading he gives balances out the interference. So yes hubby and I make a great Ying and Yang team. Enough blogging time to work on the PhD.

Great picture hey. Copyright 2008 Cara Dawson

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweet Valentine

I was inspired to Blog by my highschool best buddy "Count it all Joy". Under the disguise of Stylish Blog award she has asked that I share seven things about myself and then pass it on to three other bloggers.

With today being valentines day and my hubby being away I'm taking this chance to tell the world and him what I find romantic. Academic romance often involves long distances. Sol and I spent seven years ranging from a mere 5 hour drive apart to an intenational flight between Sydney and Hong Kong. Needless to say we married in 2000 and a little later Sol graduated as a rock Dr. Currently he is away looking at rocks in New Zealand.

Sols PhD graduation
On to the romance. Here are seven things I find romantic

1. A dozen red waratahs.
A dozen red roses would do, but I do so love Australian natives. Just don't go picking them from National Parks.

2. Camping out under the stars. 
One of my best nights involved camping on South Molle Island looking up at the stars.

3. Sharing a seafood platter for two
I love seafood. Combine that love with sharing and its a winner romantic  idea.

4. A home cooked meal.
Sol makes a great seafood paella

5. Sea- kayaking.
Sol and I went sea kayaking around the Whitsundays for our honeymoon. Soon we are celebrating our 11th anniversary by going sea kayaking around Sydney harbour (with no kids)

6.  Share a bottle of bubbles and Guylian Chocolates

7.  Ride a bike around the vineyards
You could combine 6 and 7 and really hit the jackpot!

So who to pass the award on to.

I'm not a great follower of blogs and have decided maybe I should try a bit more. Here are three great choices.

Down to Earth by Rhonda Jean. Full of so many practical bits of advice and simple joys in life. We could all learn a bit of sustainability from Rhonda

Sol Buckman this would be more of an encouragement award. Blogging would not be one of his priorities in a busy academic life with a firey red headed phd studying wife and three young boys. But maybe some romance tips could come back to me : )  Hmm what would be on his list. Watch cricket whilst doting wife delivers beer. Maybe not romantic, rather an unrealistic dream.

Academic Jungle I stumbled across this blog today when I realised how few academic mummy bloggers I follow.  I loved the line "there is no better way to de-stress from the academic rat race than by hugging and kissing giggly little creatures to your heart's content." I'm with you girl.

Happy Valentines all

ps here's another piece of trivia. I still don't know who sent a valentines card when I was about 17 saying
"happy  valentines day frog face"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Back to the books

Holiday is over. Tomorrow I'm signing up as a full-time student. No more part-time as the kids are all in school. Of course my first day back will involve one kid still being at home due to some ongoing medical stuff. But hey I'll use the day to get organised, dust my office, fill in the never ending paperwork and find those books.

2011 this is the year to finish.

Must focus on the Mummy mantra

Family, self-care, thesis, friends

Source: Jorge Cham (2010) PhD Comics

I'm so looking forward to completing this PhD. Shame there is buckets of work to do.

Source: Nataliedee (2009) Sharing Machine

Time to focus on the little buckets which when combined will eventually create the big almighty PhD bucket...

Friday, February 4, 2011

School for three

My little baby started school today. He'd watched his brothers for the past three years climb aboard the bus and finally it was his turn. I raced the bus to beat him to school so I could be there for the "first day".

First day of school for Isaac

It felt like it was a big milestone to finally have all three boys at school. I joked on facebook that I've retired. Now I might actually get five days a week to study.

But a milestone is worth a celebration, so celebrate we did. Lots of  lovely ladies came over for lunch suitably named "cheers and champers". They brought yummy salads to go with the mango, mayo BBQ chicken.

When I picked up my little man from school he cutely asked in the car on the way home
" will we still get Mummy Days"
Is this where I confess I held back my tears all day until at that point my eyes welled. I'll miss those little people tormenting me shopping and messing up the house. Luckily school holidays and weekends will ensure they can continue their gorgeous presence.
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